Play It Again, Hollywood

When's the last time you saw a truly original movie? You know, the kind that leaves you with that warm feeling in your pants when you leave the theatre. You exit thinking "Nobody has ever done that before. This was totally new." Now picture that movie in your mind. Visualise some scenes from it, the sword dangling, the maiden, the silver dollar nipples... now remove that movie from your memory, because whatever it is, I can almost guarantee you it wasn't original.

This is going to be the first time I take a stand against a major player like Hollywood, but I assure you it won't be the last. Companies, corporations and industries suck just as much as individuals do, and for the same reasons: they're lazy, self-serving, and inconsiderate. The only difference is it takes more people, and it necessarily affects more people too. Let's begin, shall we?

Hollywood has been in the business of making movies for a long time. If you're reading this, odds are your parents (or grandparents if you're young) weren't even born when Hollywood started making movies. A history of film can be read over here; that's not the point of this article. Over the last hundred years or so, there have been thousands of movies made in Hollywood. Some of them were even good. But where do they come from?

The first thing a movie requires is a story. That story is then turned in to a script, which is hacked apart by producers and editors to "get rid of the rough spots". Then they hire some of the cast, who then go over the script themselves and hack it apart again. After several iterations of this with different people (stuntmen, camera operators, the caterer, etc), they start filming. Then scenes are cut, rewritten, juiced up, edited, and the finish product sometimes resembles the original screenplay.

My biggest complaint with Hollywood at the moment has to do with where the story comes from. There are dozens of talented writers coming up with new and fresh ideas every year, hoping they'll be made in to movies. Despite all these people and their scripts, most of what we've seen in the last five years is unoriginal, rehashed content being moved from format to format. Here is where about 99% of Hollywood movies fall, by my estimation:

  • Sequels
  • Movie versions of books/anime/television shows/other movies/comic books/etc
  • Biopics or "based on a true story"
  • Remakes of old movies
  • Rip-offs of each other

That's right, most so-called "original" stories are rehashes from other sources. The Matrix (allegedly), Minority Report, Shawshank Redemption, Sin City, 300, Batman Begins, Lord of the Rings, and just about every other Hollywood blockbuster in the last 5-10 years are not original stories. But we've already established that there are writers out there with original ideas. So what's the problem?

The problem lies with the big-shot executives in the Hollywood studios. They are more concerned with what will make money than they are with letting people tell their stories. Pirates of the Caribbean was so successful they made two more of them. Too bad the first movie was based on a ride in a theme park. Ocean's 12 and 13 are star-studded sequels to Ocean's 11, but that was a remake of an old Brat Pack movie.

Now, don't get me wrong; there are original movies out there to be found. Just don't expect to see them come out of Hollywood. Kevin Smith broke on to the independant scene with Clerks, and became huge. Sadly, in today's movie era, Hollywood is all about remakes, movie versions, and sequels. Even Clerks 2. Alright then, here's my movie idea for you:

An eccentric scientist played by Bruce Willis has found a way to make dinosaurs from tree sap. He accidentally creates a giant moth as well, and grows an ape to enormous proportions, and for some reason they all head toward Tokyo. Meanwhile, back in New York, an undercover policeman gets ingraciated in to the mob family of choice for Italians everywhere, where he's killed by Al Pacino's penis gun while he screams incoherently about his little friend, who turns out in the end to be a hallucination from inside his "beautiful" mind.

Meanwhile, back in medieval times, a former Dread Pirate and his wife with enormous nipples we get to see every thirty seconds or so due to "wardrobe malfunctions" are settling in for dinner, when they are arrested for no reason and sent to a distant island to collect all of mankind's knowledge in to one gigantic encyclopedia. It turns out that island is near Japan, where men from a starship come back in time by slingshotting around the Sun in order to kidnap Al Pacino's penis (and the rest of him too, I guess) and drop him off on that same island, by random coincidence, for no known reason.

Al Pacino and the pirate have a random fistfight, where they each lose their shirts. While engaged in the fight, the dinosaurs, the giant moth and the enormous primate come through the trees, but are miraculously killed when they suddenly realise they're highly allergic to water, despite the massive amount that's always present in the Earth's atmosphere. Just then, Bruce Willis announces that he's really been dead for the entire movie, and Al Pacino's and the pirate's heads explode. Then we all eat ice cream before waking up.

There you go, a movie exactly as original as almost everything that's come out of Hollywood recently. Or you could take a chance on a truly original movie, with actors who aren't twenty years too old for their roles, and get back to making magic happen instead of using the same rehashed slight of hand every fucking year. Where do you think Kevin Smith and M. Night Shyamalan came from? Are you reading this, Hollywood?

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